Sunday, July 20, 2014

We're Doomed!

DOOMSDAY MACHINE-1972-In 1975 it's discovered that Red China has a "doomsday machine" are going to use it to destroy the world! Around the same time, Project Astra, a manned spaceship to Venus has it's own problems. At the last minute three of the male astronauts are replaced by women which for some reason doesn't fit in well with the other guys. Grant Williams (THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN) and TV actor Denny Miller are the two grouchy commanders and singer/dancer Bobby Van is the comedy relief. The philosophical older leader is played by Henry Wilcoxon who was Marc Anthony in Cecil B. DeMille's CLEOPATRA in 1931. Obviously things weren't going so well for the old guy if he had to be in this junk). TV actress Ruta Lee is the super serious doctor Turner and Mala Powers (OUTRAGE) is the Russian major Bronski. Lorri Scott is the flirty Lt. Carlson.

After the Earth is destroyed it becomes apparent that sending the women along was not for pure scientific purposes. It's up to the crew to make it to Venus and carry on the human lifeline! But radioactivity from the destroyed Earth threaten to sterilize the men! While most of the crew talk procreation Grant suddenly can't control his hormones and attacks Lt. Carlson. They wind up getting vaporized. Nothing much else happens until two of the space travelers almost get to Venus but are warned by the collective Venus psyche that because of the "destructive ways of earthlings" they are not allowed to land. The voice seems to suggest other adventures await the two but their spaceship seems to blow up. The End.

THE DOOMSDAY MACHINE first started filming in 1967 under the title ARMAGEDDON 1975 by director Herbert J. Leder (FIEND WITHOUT A FACE) but ran out of money and was never finished.
For some reason Harry Hope (who produced some Al Adamson movies) and Lee "Roll 'Em" Sholem (SUPERMAN AND THE MOLE MEN) saw a need to do it. They filmed an ending without any of the original cast or sets and finished and released it in 1972. The cheesy effects are some of the most ridiculous ever and their ship changes size and color several times. The spaceship scenes were shot on a very cheap set with multi-colored lighting. Stock footage from WIZARD OF MARS (directed by David Hewitt who had a hand in this) is thrown in.

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Should Have Stayed Lost

BIGFOOT COUNTY-2012-This is an extreme rip-off of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT except this time three people investigate the legend of Bigfoot. There's interviews with locals and the usual farting around by the so called investigators but mostly it's them screaming in the dark after hearing mysterious noises. It turns out the trio are really being menaced by some asshole rednecks protecting their marijuana crop (there's a DELIVERANCE style rape scene) but the last four seconds of the movie justify the title.

I really hated this annoying piece of garbage and director Stephon Stewart (who directed episodes of the soap operas GENERAL HOSPITAL and THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS before this) should have kept his "found footage" lost....

A similar (and better I'm told) plot was done the same year in BIGFOOT:THE LOST COAST TAPES.

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

On Top Of The Bed You'll Fall Asleep

UNDER THE BED-2012-In this stupid teenage horror movie, a dysfunctional kid named Neil (Jonny Weston)  returns home to live with his father (Peter Holden), stepmother (Musetta Vander) and younger brother Paulie (Galltin Grittith) after spending 2 years with an aunt in Florida following the mysterious death of his mother. It seems somehow the brothers are being terrorized by a monster that resides under their bed. Their step-mother seems generally concerned but the father is an idiot who locks the boys in their room to punish them even though they haven't done anything wrong. Later at a sleep over the monster kills their neighbors' obnoxious kids. Then it kills dad. It seems the monster comes from dead body cells left on sheets and pillows so be sure to change your bed often. Later after some bloody but too dark deaths the monster takes Paulie captive and Johnny has to journey into a dark realm to rescue him.

UNDER THE BED is just another boring excursion into the ho-hum genre of "urban horror" inspired by movies like PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and INSIDIOUS. Director Steven C. Miller will surely be heard from again. You've been warned.

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I, FRANKENSTEIN-2004-The Frankenstein monster (Aaron Eckhardt;THE BATTLE OF LOS ANGELES) finds his creator at the North Pole frozen to death. While burying Victor he's attacked by some demons but saved by some gargoyles when they come to life. He's later take prisoner by other demons led by Lenore, queen of the gargoyles (Miranda Otto). The Monster renamed Adam gets caught in between an ages long demon war. In modern times Adam comes up against Naberious (Bill Nighy), a mad scientist-demon who wants to create an army of monsters using Victor's journal. Yvonne Strahovski is a scientist who wants to examine Adam.

This box office bomb written and directed by Stuart Beattie (screenwriter of 30 DAYS OF NIGHT) seems like it wanted to start a series of movies but it's mostly talk wrapped around the usual CGI SFX that dominate most horror and fantasy films.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Colossus in The Big Apple!

THE COLOSSUS OF NEW YORK-1958-Just after winning a Nobel prize a brilliant scientist Jerry Spensser (Ross Martin) is hit and killed by a truck while chasing after his son's toy plane. His slightly demented but famous brain surgeon father (Otto Kruger) takes out Jerry's brain and hooks it up to a machine in his lab so that his genius mind won't be wasted. His kind of jealous brother Henry (TV actor John Baragrey who is top billed) helps Pop built an over-sized robot to house Jerry's brain. It's big and bald and has glowing eyes, mechanical hands and feet and for some reason wears a cloak. Needless to say Jerry's not to pleased with his new bod and promptly faints. Although once conscious Jerry pleads with his stupid dad to "destroy me", Pop Spensser convinces his brain revived son to continue his experiments. He also develops  ESP, mind control and laser beam eyes and puts dad under his control. Later when he decides to visit his own grave, Jerry meets his son Billy (Charles Herbert also in THE DAY THE WORLD STOOD STILL the same year). He gets very angry because he's not made of flesh and blood. He blows a circuit when he sees Henry put the moves on Anne. She faints and Henry runs away! Mala Powers plays Jerry's widow Anne who seems to favor another doctor John Carrington (Robert Hutton) but he thinks Anne is just hallucinating when she says she's seen a giant robot. After Jerry-bot does in his younger brother, the climax takes place at The United Nations where an out of control Jerry lasers many spectators until Billy stops his wanton destruction ala THE GOLEM.

I've seen many negative reviews with this (at one time) seldom seen Science Fiction movie but around the time there was much more junkier stuff being made. The story is preposterous and kind of rushed but the metallic "colossus" is impressive. Director Eugene Lourie (THE BEST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS) provides some nice eerie night scenes which are given an extra jolt from Van Cleave's staccato piano soundtrack (although it's a little overbearing in a few scenes). The Ukrainian born Lourie  would later get back into the giant monster genre with THE GIANT BEHEMOTH and GORGO and also edited several Sam Fuller films.

Though she had given good performances as Roxanne in CYRANO de BERGERAC and a rape victim in Ida Lupino's OUTRAGE, Mala Powers was doing mostly TV at this time. Otto Kruger's long flim career (begun in 1915) was coming to a close but he would act 5 more years. As the obsessed analytical father is very unlikable but after being basically responsible for all of the robot's mayhem in the end he just admits he's wrong and walks away. Robert Hutton is all but wasted as the good guy scientist friend. And I'm at a loss to understand why TV actor John Baragrey is top billed. It would have seemed more logical to have Hutton in that role!

This was one of over two dozen films produced by former actor William Alland. He also produced the Jack Arnold directed THE SPACE CHILDREN  the same year.

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Monday, July 7, 2014

How About Trained To Direct?

TRAINED TO KILL-1989-In this silly martial arts revenge flick two brothers go after the dirt bags who killed their father (Chuck Connors in one of his last roles). One is his natural son Matt (direct to video action star Frank Zagarino) and the other is an adopted son Sam (Glen Eaton) from Cambodia. Henry Silva is Ace Duran who leads a band of escaped army criminals (including Robert D'Zar) who steal some diamonds Sam had (unknowingly) brought with him to the US. Ron O'Neal is George, an alcoholic 'Nam vet friend who joins them and trains the duo ("When you fight get yourself back to the jungle"). Unfortunately when Duran's henchman Loc Syn (Harold Diamond looking like an overage rock star) kills George the story really suffers. 

The scene where the gang beats up Connors is ridiculous. The former RIFLEMAN star is bigger than any of his attackers and has to crouch so he doesn't tower over them! Several scenes have visible microphones and a cheesy '80's dance song plays when they all train. The fight scenes are terrible and the acting, script and direction all suck too but Silva and O'Neal  almost save it. TV actress Arlene Golonka plays Connors doomed wife and Jason Vorhees portrayer Kane Hodder has a small role. 

Director H. Kaye Dyal's biggest claim to fame seems to be he created the story for LONE WOLF MCQUADE. It was filmed in Las Vegas and Ray Dennis Steckler is credited as Las Vegas coordinator! 

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Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Fury of Hasselhof!

NICK FURY-AGENT OF SHIELD-1998-Before he became a patch wearing African-American leader of a secret US government agency, Marvel Comics character Nick Fury was a patch wearing white guy leader of a secret government agency. For some strange reason David Hasselhoff (TV's KNIGHT RIDER and BAYWATCH) is cast as Fury in this TV movie adaptation. He's terrible even when just lighting his cigar. He's too young and lacks any of the "grizzled hard-boiled roughness" that made the original tick. He seems more like comic parody.

In this Fury is called out of retirement by The President to investigate the disappearance of the body of HYDRA leader Baron Strucker (who Fury killed years before) which for another strange reason was saved in a cryogenics tank. He's joined by Contessa Valentina (Lisa Rinna) and English agent Pierce (Neil Roberts). He also meets with his former "Howlin' Commandos" buddies Dum-Dum Dugan (Garry Chalk) and Gabe (Ron Canada) and says things like "guys like you tend to cling to the bowl no matter how many times you flush" through clenched teeth while chomping on a cigar. The story revolves around Strucker's daughter (badly over acting Sandra Hess) and son (Scott Heindl) and their attempt to resurrect Hitler's "death's head virus". Peter Howarth is Arnim Zola and HYDRA agents don't wear their trademark green robes. Instead they look like CIA agents. At the end Strucker is brought back to life but fortunately for everyone no sequel was made.

Screenwriter David S. Goyer had written DEMONIC TOYS for Charles Band's company and the Jean Claude Van Damme movie DEATH WARRANT. He wrote the screenplays for BLADE (and it's sequel) and DARK CITY which were released the same year. After FURY, he was connected with several comic book projects including writing and directing BLADE:TRINITY and working on the TV series and writing Zack Synder's MAN OF STEEL. As of this writing he's working on "The Justice League of America" movie.

Australian born director Ron Hardy made FURY after a TV version of 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA and an unreleased version of ROBINSON CRUSOE starring Pierce Brosnan, He later did more TV.

Thanks for readin', ya tin plated yahoos!